He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.
When is a blessing a curse? When it is flattery! Pay no attention to excessive blessings, compliments, or praise. It is actually a curse, for there is a false or foolish motive behind it (Pr 26:24-28; 29:5). The person has already deceived you, or he is about to deceive you. Godly men are not moved by flattery, nor do they manipulate others with flattery.
The man here praises his friend with a loud voice. What does this sound level tell you about him? It indicates an insincere display rather than a holy and noble compliment. He intends for the friend and others also to hear the blessing. The loud praise is excessive, because it is flattery. His blessing is for other than friendly and sincere encouragement.
He rises early in the morning to praise his friend. What does this timing tell you about the blessing? It indicates a compliment and praise out of place and proportion, for there are other more important things to be done in the morning. The untimely praise is excessive, because it is flattery. His blessing is for other than friendly and sincere encouragement.
The flattery here is between friends. If an enemy used a loud voice early in the morning to praise you, it would be easy to know it was false and dangerous (Ps 5:8-10). But when it is between friends, it is much harder to see its danger (Pr 29:5). Wise men, who value sober warnings, will steel themselves against excessive compliments, even from friends.
God hates flattery. Flattery is a compliment or praise to get another person to believe or do something wrong. It is a trait of depraved men (Ps 5:9). Whores use it to seduce men (Pr 6:24; 7:21), and Israel used it to secure God’s deliverance from enemies (Ps 78:34-37). God will cut off all flatterers and blind their children (Job 17:5; Ps 12:1-3)!
Good men will not give flattering titles to men (Job 32:21-22), though very popular in religion (Matt 23:6-12). Some ministers use “Reverend” or “Father” to obtain flattery from others. Paul never used flattery when in Thessalonica, which is quite contrary to the manipulating and stroking teachers so popular today (I Thess 2:5). True ministers will not flatter: they will name sins, name names, and take no prisoners (II Cor 10:4-6)!
In a marketing era, image is more important than content, appearance than performance, and perception than reality, so it is easy to approve flattery. Sanguines have the temperament for it; salesmen are taught to do it. Rather than objectively present a product by its factual merits, they promote things with loud flattery and feigned friendliness. Compliments from a salesman about any personal matters are manifestly insincere.
Talk is cheap. Wise men ignore most bad things said about them (Eccl 7:21-22), and they ignore all good things said about them (Pr 27:14,21). One act of true kindness is more meaningful than many exuberant blessings. Correction and rebuke are far more valuable for prosperity and success than any compliment. It is a duty for saints to think soberly of themselves, but this is hard to do, if you enjoy the praise of men (Pr 29:5; Rom 12:3).
Saul flattered David by offering him his two daughters, intending to use the bait to kill him by the Philistines (I Sam 18:17-25). Absalom flattered the men of Israel to steal their loyalty from his father David, king of Israel (II Sam 15:1-6). The citizens of Tyre and Sidon flattered Herod, but God had him eaten by worms for accepting it (Acts 12:21-23).
All praise is not sin. Praise to get a person to believe or do something wrong is sin. Jesus commended His disciples (Luke 22:28). Paul mentioned a fellow believer, who was praised in all the churches (II Cor 8:18). Paul praised Corinth (I Cor 11:2). Paul praised Timothy (Phil 2:19-22). Paul listed many men and women for honor and praise in the churches (Rom 16:1-15). And both husband and children will praise the virtuous woman for her diligent and noble efforts (Pr 31:28-31). Subversive praise, or flattery, is sin.
Praise severely tests a man’s character (Pr 27:21). Most men are vulnerable to flattery, from men or women; they believe the praise is true, and they will compromise to get more of it (Pr 29:5). But a wise man will prefer the rebuke of a sincere friend above the kiss of an enemy (Pr 27:5-6). Jesus, the greatest example for you, did what He could to hinder praise and popularity (Mark 7:36). Make efforts to soon forget compliments but to well remember correction – the latter is far better for your perfection than the former.